America apos;s Widespread Baby Formula Shortage Gets Worse
President Joe Biden's administration announced its 17th Operation Fly Formula mission on Monday as marketing data shows the baby formula shortage is getting worse.
The administration announced two flights to transport Nestlé Health Science amino acid-based formula from Switzerland to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on July 21 and 22.
The delivery will include the equivalent of 802,446 8-ounce bottles of formula, which will be distributed primarily to hospitals and home health care providers.
But, despite the rash of flights the administration has announced, U.S. stores are still struggling to stock baby formula on their shelves.
Formula availability dropped to its lowest level so far this year, with about 30% of products out of stock for the week ended July 3, according to the market-research firm IRI.
A White House official told DailyMail that 'we are seeing some rebuilding of retailer stocks.'
The official conceded it was early yet but said th enumbers 'show improvement. Thus far, higher cumulative year-to-date sales vs. last year suggest families are getting access.'
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the administration's actions on Monday, saying the administration was working to increase domestic production but remained focused on safety issues.
'The federal government has worked in lockstep with the private sector to ramp up domestic production and to increase the supply,' she said at her daily press briefing.
'We're ramping up for domestic production,' she noted. She pointed to the increased imports of foreign forumla and waivers for federal rules tied to the low income food supplemental funds.
'We're going to do everything that we can to increase production. But again, we want to make sure that the safety is first priority,' she said.
Biden administration announced 17th Operation Fly Formula: two flights to transport Nestlé Health Science amino acid-based formula from Switzerland to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on July 21 and 22 (above is a flight from London that arrived in U.S. on June 17)
But U.S. stores are struggling to stock shelves: formula availability dropped to its lowest level so far this year, with about 30% of products out of stock for the week ended July 3
That translates into a 70% stock rate for that week, which is down from the 77% stock rate for the preceding week.
IRI tracks inventory of the product across more than 125,000 stores in the United Stats. Rates were hovering at 90% before the February recall and factory shutdown for Abbott Laboratories, which sparked the shortage.
President Biden launched Operation Fly Formula 'to speed up the import of infant formula and start getting more formula to stores as soon as possible,' the White House noted.
By July 24, Operation Fly Formula will have transported more than 61 million 8-ounce bottle equivalents to the U.S., the administration noted.
But that isn't close to being enough.
U.S. consumers usually buy enough powdered formula to make about 65 million 8-ounce bottles a week.
The hardest hit states, with inventory levels below 60%, include Utah, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado.
Alaska has the biggest shortfall, with an in-stock rate at 51%. The state with the best supply situation is New York at 81%.
Parents are also finding fewer choices of brands, sizes or formats of formula on grocery-store shelves as the shortage continues.
U.S. supermarkets over the four weeks ended June 26 sold an average of 11 different formula products per store weekly, according to IRI data shared with the compared with a weekly average of 24 from 2018 to 2021.
'We are months — months — away from an end to these shortages,' a source Short notes on internet marketing; www.Digitalmarketings.my.id, a recent FDA call about the issue told President Biden launched Operation Fly Formula 'to speed up the import of infant formula and start getting more formula to stores as soon as possible'
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The shortage was sparked in February when Abbott Laboratories closed its plant in Sturgis, Mich., and initiated a recall while food-safety regulators investigated a possibly deadly contamination.
The plant had been responsible for producing roughly one-fifth of U.S. formula and is a major supplier of specialty formulas that babies with special needs rely on to survive.
It restarted operations in early June, but stopped less than two weeks later after heavy storms flooded part of the facility.
It restarted operations on July 1 and is focusing on producing the specialty formula Elecare, which is made for babies with digestive issues.
The administration was slow to respond to the shortage but then moved to ramp up production domestically and to bring in international brands to ease the shortage.
In May, the president invoked the Defense Production Act - forcing suppliers to prioritize directing resources to infant formula production above all other contracts.
Nearly 98% of baby formula is manufactured domestically. Four companies account for roughly 90% of the market: Abbott, Reckitt, Nestle and Perrigo.
Baby-Formula Shortage Deepens, Defying Replenishment Efforts - WSJ
Second time's a charm? Baby formula plant at center of shortages quietly reopened July 1 - POLITICO